Feline immunodeficiency virus is a critical viral infection that affects cats on a global scale. Its first discovery was during an investigation of a disease outbreak in colonies of rescue cats in the USA. The scientists noted that cats would exhibit the same signs as humans with HIV. They, however, noted that despite the baseline similarity of the two conditions, HIV and FIV have very specific causatives.
What is the link between HIV and FIV?
The two viruses affect the body’s autoimmune system, hence making the host susceptible to other infections. None of the diseases are, however, transmittable to across the two species.
Scientists study FIV as a learning stone of HIV. Dr. Galilee and Alian focused one study on a protein known as reverse transcriptase to understand how HIV and FIV can copy data from the RNA genome. The DNA gets implantation on the host’s genome and causes the cells to replicate the virus.
FIV has stronger resistance against antiretroviral drugs because it is resistant to RTIs. There is a growing concern that HIV may develop the same strength as FIV.
How does FIV compare to feline AIDS?
FIV can cause symptoms that imitate AIDS because AIDS is the final stage of FIV. Feline AIDS is often the result of an FIV infection. The notable fact is that some cats may never develop feline AIDS.
How does Feline AIDS cause other illnesses?
FIV infects the cells of the immune system, mainly lymphocytes, and white blood cells. The virus then damages the cells and compromises their usual functionality. This setting causes an eventual decline in the cat’s health. Any degree of immune reaction does not eliminate the virus. It, however, slows down the virus’s replication and keeps the illness at a relatively low level.
The replication increases with time as the immunity continues to suffer attacks. This case often happens at around the second or fifth year after the first infection. Increased replication leads to eventual damage to the immune system.
How common is Feline AIDS?
The prevalence of the infection varies in different feline populations. It tends to be more common in crowded homes and living spaces. This case is because it tends to have more interaction, such as mating and bloody fights.
The rate of infection is between one and five percent among healthy cats. The prevalence may be high at 15-20 percent among cats that have immunosuppression. The disease is generally shared among outdoor cats and is twice as common among male felines. The most infected age group tends to be the middle ages between 5 and 10 years because the cats have their highest energy levels.
What are the clinical symptoms of an FIV infection?
There are no specific signs of FIV, because a compromised immunity triggers a multitude of illnesses.
You may, however, notice the following indicators among all cats that begin suffering from frequent FIV attacks.
Reduced body weight
Larger lymph nodes
Stomatitis and gingivitis
Chronic skin disease
Chronis respiratory illnesses
Blood infections like haemoplasma and neoplasia
What is the diagnostic process of Feline AIDS ?
Several tests can confirm the presence of an infection. Some are doable at the local vet’s office and include sampling and detecting antibodies.
Antibodies are a production of the cat’s immune system. Hence, tests work on the principle that the cat will work to eliminate the virus. While the tests are generally highly reliable, no test can ever be completely accurate. The vet will do follow up checks to ascertain a test.
Kittens that are born with FIV will test positive early in life. They should, however, undergo another test in the fifth or sixth months when they have a better-established immune system. Vaccinated kittens will still test positive on routine antibody tests like PCR.
What to expect from the vet
The practitioner will run a confirmatory test for the presence of FIV. One can detect antibodies through several techniques. One is testing the Western Blot, which is a standard and efficient test that shows whether the cat has an FIV vaccination.
Tests like immunofluorescence assays and enzyme-linked immunofluorescence assays are dependent on the cat’s ability to react to the FIV virus. This case is because antibodies are simply a reaction to the suppressed immunity
A Polymerase Chain Reaction test is better when the vet has confirmation of the cat’s vaccination
The vet may recommend additional tests to complete a blood cell count. One of these tests includes a blood chemistry panel
A urinalysis is better for gauging the cat’s overall health and the most suitable health plan
Treatment and management options of Feline AIDS
FIV belongs to a viral group known as lentiviruses. This group of viruses allows the cat to stay healthy for longer because its main target is to cause a slow development of diseases.
The infection is, however, irreversible and will be present for the rest of its life. The virus is in the cat’s saliva and is transmittable through the following everyday situations
A cat bite from another cat
It is important to note that scientists are yet to establish whether the virus is transportable by parasites and fleas. Another critical factor is that the virus has a short life in the environment; hence, one can get rid of any suspected infections in the environment with common disinfectants.
Can you ensure an FIV-positive cat?
Pet insurance companies require that one reveal the cat’s accurate health report. Each insurer has different terms and conditions for providing payouts. Discuss the presence of FIV with potential companies to acquire the best payment plan and benefits.
Common treatment plans
The most common medications for FIV are Zidovudine. The drug reduces viral overload over time. The side effects may exceed the benefits if the cat has weak immunity.
Erythropoietin is a recommendable drug that raises the red blood cell count of a cat with anemia.
Secondary fungal and bacterial infections are common among FIV infected cats. The cat will usually include antifungal and antibody drugs to improve the cat’s condition.
Antiviral therapy is a suitable option for FIV infected cats. Interferons are a group of naturally occurring compounds that modify the immune response. While the choice is less efficient than other forms, it is a good starter option for healthy FIV+ cats.
Antiviral drugs do not cure FIV, as explained above. They are, however, therapeutic and do well in supporting the cat’s usual biological processes.
Many FIV infected cats can live happily with the virus for a couple of years. The infection will not cause any clinical disease when the owner takes the cat to a vet during the early stages. One study states that the positive cat will survive for just under five years after an early diagnosis. A non-infected cat will live for six years when it develops the same illnesses as the infected one.
Recommendable prevention programs
The main aim of managing an FIV infection is to prevent further spread. The most common supportive treatments are doable with no or minimal funds. Here is how you can avoid contamination of other household or neighborhood cats.
The most responsible move for cat owners with positive pets is to prevent a spread in the community. This case means that your cat should not be roaming the streets as free as it did before the test. You can expect fussing and several attempts to escape before the cat accepts its new environment.
Separation does not have to be a sentence against enjoying the sun and the outdoors. You can fence your home or build proper boarding catteries to prevent escape or accompany the cat on walks as you would a dog.
The latter option may be difficult; hence, you should allow the cat to roam in a monitored environment.
Management of colonies, rescue centers, and organizations
Breeders should prevent their cats from having access to external cats. They should test a cat and kitten before introducing them to the lot. Any cats that test positive should not be part of the colony, and the rest retested every three to six months. Checking the cats before rehoming them will help the future owner.
Minimize raw foods
The cat owner mustn’t succumb to the growing trend of shifting to a raw foods diet. Serving your cat vegetables and fruits will not be as helpful as it would for a human. Additionally, do not serve the cat raw meats, because it contains pathogens and parasites. The compromised immune system will not be able to handle more attacks.
There are a couple of controversies regarding the best vaccination option. Unlike FeLV+, the healthy cat does not need the same range of vaccines. There is also evidence that vaccinating a positive cat triggers further activation of the virus.
Scientists use cultured lymphocytes to test the possible response of the cat. It is, however, advisable to vaccinate the cat if you live in an area that makes it mandatory. Forgoing the process only seems plausible for cats that spend the majority of their time indoors.
The last thing one should risk while trying to prevent a spread is encouraging the inhabitation of fleas, worms, and mites. Many products will eradicate multiple forms of insects. Consult with your doctor for the best suggestions.
Immune stimulating agents
Numerous products do an excellent job of supporting the immune system. The most common mechanism of the products is absorption by the lymph tissue within the mouth and throat. It targets to minimize future infections associated with FIV. You can find one in a liquid form to increase the possibility of absorption, or one with a salty tinge as an addition to foods.
Oxidative stress is a well-known contributor to the development of cancer. The process stems from the reactive oxygen compounds generated by the body’s metabolism. The compounds damage the DNA and support the implications of FIV.
A study published by Webb et al. studied the antioxidant, Superoxide. The conclusion reveals that supplementing the cat’s diet with a rich antioxidant raises the body’s immunity and supports health.
What to watch out for during treatment
Cats that take antibiotics are apt to loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting
Antiviral medicine causes suppression of the bone marrow. One should complete the blood cell count analysis
Symptoms of worsening signs, such as lethargy and neurological disorders are indicative of a worsening immune system
The best affordable management solution
The world is getting better at understanding the potency of sourcing medicine from nature. Society thrived on food and natural minerals for ages before modern medicine redefined health and healing. Most people check in to a hospital for synthetic drugs, instead of adjusting their diet to support a healthy body and mind.
The notion of turning to manufactured drugs is slowly coming to an end. The wave of herbal treatments and natural foods is influential to both the human and animal worlds.
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Burdock – It has a rich content of iron, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, and thiamine
Cat’s claw – The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb fight off viruses by strengthening the immune system
Myrrh – The element acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
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